John Shea has practiced environmental and land use law for over 40 years. He focuses on wetlands, water (clean, stormwater, wastewater), and hazardous waste laws. He is recognized as a master strategist in securing approvals for complex and controversial projects, developing environmental compliance plans for pro-active and troubled companies, and successfully defending permits and enforcement actions in administrative and court appeals.

John represents developers, businesses and high net worth individuals in permitting, siting, enforcement defense and litigation. His development projects include coastal homes, subdivisions, subsidized housing, hotels, assisted living facilities, hospitals, colleges, and banks. He handles local, state and federal permitting of and litigation on coastal erosion protection measures, piers and docks, marinas, yacht and boat clubs, aquaculture farms, radio antenna arrays, solar and wind renewable energy facilities, industrial plants, office parks, and retail complexes. He also works on Brownfields redevelopment projects. John represents municipalities in review of permit application, in enforcement of permits and land use laws, and in related litigation.

John represents public water suppliers and wastewater treatment facilities in permitting, NPDES appeals, supervising compliance teams in enforcement cases, and developing water supply and watershed protection strategies. He represents industrial and commercial businesses and residential developers in permitting and enforcement defense of water withdrawals, and wastewater and stormwater discharges. He is a member of the Massachusetts Water Works Association and the New England Water Works Association. He received the MWWA William H. McGinnis Award in 2022 in recognition of his knowledge of water law and contributions to the public water supply profession.

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J.D., University of Maine Law School

Masters in Environmental Law, cum laude, Vermont Law School

B.S., cum laude, Holy Cross College




Massachusetts Federal Courts

U.S. Supreme Court

Courts of Japan

honors & awards

Lawdragon Green 500: Leaders in Environmental Law (2024)

Massachusetts Water Works Association, William H. McGinnis Award (2022)

Chambers USA, Band 2 Massachusetts Environmental Law

Best Lawyers in America Best Lawyer, Environmental Law (2008-2024)

Best Lawyers in America Boston Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year” (2013)

Massachusetts Super Lawyers (2022-2023)

Martindale-Hubbell, AV Pre-eminent Lawyer


The Planetary Society

The Mars Society